ASUU and challenge of revitalisation universities – Part 2
Following the way and manner successive governments handled the declaration of trade dispute by ASUU, government’s readiness to break agreements freely entered into, its failure to implement its own reports as well as the repetitive nature of the grounds for strike, corroborate the view that the crises in the university is a systematic, if not a carefully designed agenda to paralyze public university education in order to make way for a market-based privatization of university education.
Selfless Sacrifices of ASUU Members
Despite the nobleness and justness of ASUU struggle against the tyranny of successive Nigerian rulers and their historic disdain for educational development, ASUU members have suffered violence in the hands of an oppressive political class. ASUU members paid the greatest price in the defense of principles, in the fight for justice, fairness, equity and good governance. The trauma suffered by ASUU members whose salaries were stopped is unquantifiable; homes broken due to salary stoppage, the dehumanization in the face of threats by the government, the agony of family members who lost their loved ones in the circumstances of severe economic deprivation, not forgetting the emotional assault.
We can only salute the gallantry of members of ASUU for daring to stand up against annihilation, gross injustice and repression when all opposition collapsed, by providing the leadership and framework for providing intellectual leadership to labour in times of great fear and perfidy. I strongly salute the courage, commitment and sacrifice.
It should be emphasized that, for a greater and better Nigeria, education is key. The goals of the educational process is to promote national consciousness and integration, inculcation of values and attitudes that would sustain the Nigerian society, the development of the mind and acquisition of skills, competences and abilities that will enable the individual function effectively, contribute to national development and be globally relevant.
No doubt, the demands of ASUU have come to be validated as genuine and incontrovertible. Therefore, with the abundant natural wealth, the nation should guarantee quality education. Our universities are in a state of gross decay beyond the widest imagination of Nigeria. This is worrisome! Is our resource economy afflicted by a resource curse? What a shame!
The Nigerian students, parents and other critical interest groups as well as the general public should discountenance the blackmail of the government that reduces the demands of ASUU to mere agitation for improved pay package. By the way, why should university lecturers not earn, at least the African average, other than the present slave wage!
The failure of integrity that has greeted the process since the commencement of the strike action, the carelessness and the brazen incursion of influence of cartels and enemies of Nigerian Universities should be resisted.
It is worth emphasizing that while a better condition of service is part of ASUU’s demands and of course imperative, the struggle of ASUU in particular, is to create enabling atmosphere for quality and affordable education for Nigerians. The union recognizes that scholarship is about contestation of ideas and that genuine transformation/change would only occur in the honest pursuit of truth, justice, knowledge and service.
It is wished that the recent groundswell of interests by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and other stakeholders, will culminate in a convergence of urgent amiable solutions to this avoidable crisis and uplifting the country’s intellectual capital. Let Nigerians support ASUU to remove the needless mountains of impossibility being advocated by the government. Restoring the lost glory of the Nigerian university system is a collective effort.
Dr. Nwankwoala is of the University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria.